By ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill.
NSW’s leading LGBTQ health organisation, ACON, commends the conclusion of the NSW Parliament’s Special Commission of Inquiry into LGBTIQ Hate Crimes and expresses our gratitude to all those who contributed to this significant and vital process. This inquiry has been a crucial step towards addressing historical injustices and shedding light on the often-overlooked violence against the LGBTIQ community.
For the last 18 months, a team of independent barristers, solicitors and investigators has combed through more than 150,000 documents drawn from 40 years of police files, coronial files, and other sources in relation to LGBTIQ hate-related deaths. In a series of public hearings, the deaths of 32 individuals have been presented, requiring a great deal of courage, heart and fortitude.
Counsel Assisting made detailed submissions in every case, including recommendations as to the finding which the Commissioner should make as to the manner and cause of each death.
The Inquiry also looked at social, legal and cultural factors affecting the LGBTIQ community. It heard from historians, advocates, writers, and others with lived experience of the period, including experience of the violence against the LGBTIQ community over the past four decades.
Also, under the spotlight has been the nature of the relationship between the LGBTIQ community and the NSW Police Force over the 40-year period, including the police response to violence and deaths suspected of being hate crimes.
‘ACON Remains Steadfast In Our Commitment To Pursuing Truth And Justice’
ACON extends our heartfelt thanks to every individual from and outside of our communities who demonstrated immense courage in coming forward to share their experiences and provide testimony. It is through the bravery of these individuals that the true extent of the harm inflicted upon our community has been brought to light. They are a beacon of inspiration for us all.
Throughout this Inquiry, ACON worked alongside numerous partners, including parliamentarians, journalists, academics, activists, legal professionals, community advocates, LGBTQ community members and allies.
We acknowledge and appreciate the collaborative efforts of these dedicated entities, as their collective commitment has enriched the Inquiry process and strengthened the pursuit of truth and justice for victims of hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community.
As the Special Commission of Inquiry concludes, ACON remains steadfast in our commitment to pursuing truth and justice for all victims of LGBTQ+ hate crimes. We recognise that the Inquiry is just one part of a broader journey towards healing and accountability.
ACON will continue to work, hand in hand with our communities and partners, to ensure that the findings of the inquiry translate into meaningful action and systemic change.
‘Implement The Report’s Recommendations In Full’
The conclusion of the Inquiry marks a pivotal moment, but it is not the end of our shared mission. ACON looks forward to reviewing the Inquiry’s final report and the Government’s response when they are released to the public in a timely manner, and we hope that the Government will commit to implementing the report’s recommendations in full.
We anticipate that the insights gained from this process will contribute significantly to our understanding of the historical context and systemic issues that have perpetuated violence against the LGBTQ+ community in NSW and will shape responses to future acts of prejudice and abuse inflicted on our communities.
ACON extends its gratitude to the Commissioner, legal teams, and all those involved in conducting this Inquiry, as well as everyone involved in ensuring its establishment.
Your dedication to uncovering the truth and seeking justice is a testament to the values of fairness and equality that we hold dear as Australians.
As we move forward, let us collectively strive to create an environment where all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity can live free from fear and violence.
Nicolas Parkhill is the CEO of ACON, NSW’s leading HIV and sexuality and gender-diverse health organisation.